From 25-26 July, I was fortunate enough to give a training on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in beautiful Rwanda. This training was generously supported by the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and I presented on behalf of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). I also had the true pleasure to get to know the lovely Eugenie Mukantagwera, Country Representative of the CBM Rwanda Country Office, as well as meet some of CBM’s partners.
It was an incredible experience to work with a nascent, inclusive, and diverse disability movement. Moreover, the strong motivation to meaningfully engage in advocacy was pervasive among the group. I learned a significant amount from the participants, which greatly helps to strengthen our work at the global level.
We had fruitful discussions and presentations and from these emerged strategies for persons with disabilities to engage in advocacy of national implementation of the SDGs, including:
- Find gap in which persons with disabilities are left out.
- Advocate with the confident knowledge of that gap.
- Work and collaborate with institutions.
- Write a policy brief and share with the government.
- Represent your constituency in a meaningful way.
Participants discussed and synthesized effective suggestions for DPOs to engage in SDG advocacy at the national level, which are listed below.
- The starting point for advocacy in SDG implementation in Rwanda is the civil society platform and then to join the working group sectors (government, private, and civil society sectors).
- The role of DPOs in the SDGs can be to monitor and evaluate the national implementation, but also must have the tools to carry out monitoring and evaluation.
- DPOs must have strategic engagement by reviewing policies and plans, packaging information for dissemination, and engaging policy makers with concise policy briefs to demonstrate what DPOs are contributing.
- Obtain rigorous and valid data and evidence inclusive of persons with disabilities that can be communicated.
- DPOs must be mutually accountable with relevant stakeholders, and must be accountable to hold others accountable.
- Carry out stakeholder reviews of progress via workshops and dialogues.
- Create networks with CSOs, international NGOs, and rights groups.
- Mainstream disability rights through legal frameworks.
- Provide transfer of knowledge to others (DPOs and others) to advocate in other places because it is not possible to advocate everywhere.
Participants and panelists shared that the Rwandan government is quite active in SDG implementation. Thus, it is important to share these valuable findings to reinforce the linkages between the global and grassroots levels in the implementation of the SDGs.
Rwanda is a stellar example of a country that is linking the global SDG indicators to its national development framework. Global indicators are being analyzed in the context of the national development framework in four ways:
- The national development framework has indicators that are reflected in the global SDG indicators.
- The national development framework has indicators that are partially reflected in the global SDG indicators.
- Indicators that are not reflected in the national development framework, but are important and can be adapted.
- Indicators that are not included in the national development framework and cannot be adapted.
Currently the SDG focal point in Rwanda is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, although a strategy is in the pipeline to create a position within the government. Rwanda plans to integrate the SDGs into different sectors and into long-term strategic plans.
There are existing entry points for DPOs to actively engage in the SDG implementation process such as participating in civil society platforms and working groups, as well as engaging with other civil society organizations and movements. I look forward to learning more about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the SDGs in Rwanda.